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The static crackles to life on the big screen without anyone activating it. For a long while it’s only that: Just static, with patches of blackness every so often that promise a feed from someone, somewhere.

Tara had been asleep in the living room, so she’s the one who rallies the rest of the Titans, rousing each of them from their rooms one by one. They’re all conspicuously aware that their leader is missing, but the murmurs of worry that ripple through their tired bodies are cut short when the video finally kicks in, almost as if waiting for their congregation.

Say hi, Robin.

They all freeze at the unmistakable baritone, and even though the name makes itself painfully known in each of their brains, it’s Gar who mutters a quiet, surprised, “Slade…”

The camera swings down shakily to reveal Dick, attached to a metal chair, his clothing torn in spots with obvious nicks and bruises visible beneath. Kori sees bite marks in one of them. She covers her mouth with her hands.

Dick’s head is hanging, but the moment Gar speaks, it snaps up. Once the frame settles, Slade steps into the shot and runs a gloved hand through the boy’s hair almost fondly. It makes Dick flinch, but he can’t get away from it when his head is jerked forcefully back. “I thought I told you to say hello. Surely your friends are dying to hear your voice.”

He manages a scratchy, “Titans, video’s traceable to coordinates–” but he isn’t fast enough. At least, not faster than Slade’s hand, which comes down hard on his cheek, snapping his head to the side with an audible grunt on his part.

And here I thought you might behave, seeing as I’ve made my intentions of punishing you very clear if you didn’t.”

Tara’s wide eyes flicker from one edge of the screen to the other in a panic. This wasn’t part of the plan. This wasn’t supposed to happen. “What’s going on?” she asks, her voice quaking. Betrayed, if the rest of them had dared to listen closely enough. “What are doing with him?”

Whatever I want,” he replies slowly. There’s a languid purr there that makes her go rigid, but it isn’t until the man slides a gloved hand down Dick’s chest and squeezes his thigh possessively that the threat becomes apparent to the rest.

Victor starts with a curse, and Kori has threats queued up for miles, but it’s useless in the face of this new danger.

Despite the looming visage, Dick’s glare doesn’t let up. “Cyborg, employ the track–” Again, he’s cut short, this time by Slade’s hand curling around the bottom half of his face. He leans in, frightfully close.

If you want your leader back in one piece, I’d start looking quickly.” There’s a bite of static; the bottom half of his mask is lifted in the next frame. “Because I plan on doing something he really won’t like.” The static comes back with a hiss, a crackle, and then there are teeth at Dick’s ear.

“No!” Kori shouts, as if able to control fate with her voice alone.

The hand on Dick’s mouth comes off, and he splutters out a rough, “Wait, stop–” Things are getting fuzzy, and no amount of Victor’s banging away at the key controls can fix that. There’s a sharp, pained cry from their leader, and then the video cuts to static one last time before, finally, it goes black.